The horse evolved to move

Date: 5 April 2014

The horse evolved to move. The importance of adequate movement cannot be stressed enough

So many problems in the domestic horse world could be alleviated and completely nonexistent if only horses were granted the freedom and given the incentive to move.

Too often horses are simply labeled as "colicky." Research has shown that when naturally boarded within a "paddock paradise"-like system, the amount of colic is significantly reduced. After all, colic is a product of unnatural management practices. This isn't to say it's impossible for a naturally boarded horse to colic; of course, anything can happen. Colic would not be as big an epidemic today if natural boarding was the norm.

A horse in the wild moves on average 10 to 20 miles every single day. This is the demand of the natural world, which the horse instinctually meets. The lessons learned from the wild equines of the Great Basin are profound and are being increasingly applied to domestic horse care.

Horses held in natural boarding have a completely different energy than the horses at stables. They embody a quality that's, unfortunately, absent in most domestic horses. It's as if their presence is permeating vitality in the space. Their obvious happiness and healthiness would leave no doubt in anyone’s mind that these conditions are beneficial.

Their feet are so well-maintained and self-trimmed by nature's input alone, that farrier's tools meet them only about three times a year. If people could only comprehend the amount of money saved by creating an environment like this, there would be many more paddock paradises.

Before you feel hopeless that you do not have miles of potential track for your horses, please realize that these conditions can be closely mimicked even on a few acres of land. However, the amount of space needs to grow in relationship to the size of the herd. The larger the space, the better. The key is to create the space of "movement necessity".

Horses are cognitive creatures of necessity and curiosity, and move according to their biological needs for food, water, exploration, and the presence of predators. This means that even though you have a giant dry lot paddock, they will not move through it unless presented with biological necessities to prompt them or interesting things to explore. By adding multiple slow feeder hay stations at different spots, the horses will walk to and fro all day.

If the ground is naturally comprised of sand or other soft materials, consider adding rocks to help toughen their hooves by facilitating natural wear. Make sure to put their water at the far end of the paddock too. It is the inherent energy of herd dynamics and biological necessity that create the feet of the horses that live in the paddock paradise I refer to.

It’s never too late to optimize your horses' living situation for the better. Just start with what you have and keep moving forward. Find the fun in continuously blessing another animal's life.


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